At RoboBusiness 2017 in two weeks, speakers, attendees, and exhibitors will be discussing how to use robotics and AI to best serve business needs. The combination of improved processing power, cheaper sensors, and the capability to share and analyze data is leading to a new applications. Ted Larson, CEO of OLogic Inc., will be speaking on “Using Sensors, Data, and AI for Predictive Maintenance and Reducing Downtime.”
For more than a decade, Larson has led OLogic in robotics and consumer electronics projects in Silicon Valley and beyond. Prior to that, he founded the Urbanite Network, a Web server content publishing company for media customers, and he has worked at Hewlett-Packard, Iomega, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Here, he discusses his career trajectory, challenges facing the automation market, and the future of industry.
What got you interested in robotics and artificial intelligence, and how is it connected to what you’re now doing?
I have a Master’s Degree in computer science, and during my college years, my primary three focus areas of study were AI, neural networks, and computer networking. Needless to say, when I graduated without a Ph.D. in the early 1990s, there wasn’t much use for AI or neural networks work in industry, other than the starting of some of the big investment houses in New York starting to do quantitative analysis using such things.
So my career choices after leaving college were either move to New York and try to become a quant, or become get a job somewhere in Silicon Valley doing computer network software — I chose the latter and ended up at HP doing networking. It wasn’t until almost a decade later was I able to go back to my earlier interests and get involved in robotics.
Which emerging technology or application excites you the most?
Low cost, high-performance embedded computing and sensors for robotics.
What are the biggest barriers to continued growth of the robotics and AI market?
It’s not about the robot — it is about the overall solution you are delivering. Those who are approaching markets with a deep knowledge of robotics are having to learn the most important pieces of the domain knowledge to succeed. Those who are approaching with deep domain knowledge are having to learn robotics. Either way, this takes time.
Regulatory hurdles related to safety are being raised every day, as more and more robotic systems are deployed. Regulations to not move at the pace of Silicon Valley.
Low-cost sensing systems that are good for machine intelligence. Most sensing systems are being reused from other markets, such as computer gaming, old-school industrial automation, and safety systems.
Where do you expect robotics and AI use to grow the most in the next five years, and why?
For robotics, primarily in the area of...